EU slams PKK violence, calls for return to peace process

EU slams PKK violence, calls for return to peace process

EU slams PKK violence, calls for return to peace process

European Parliament’s Turkey rapporteur Kati Piri speaks at a press conference on Feb. 16, 2016. AA Photo

The European Union’s draft annual progress report slammed “the return to violence” by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Turkey’s southeast and called on all parties to recommit to the abandoned peace process, underlining there is “no violent solution” to the Kurdish question.

The draft report for 2016, which was announced by the European Parliament’s Turkey rapporteur Kati Piri, said the EU “condemns the return to violence by the PKK, which is on the EU´s list of terrorist organizations,” adding that “there is no violent solution for the Kurdish question.”

Turkey’s fight against terrorism was approved as being “legitimate,” but the draft stressed that “security measures must be conducted with respect for rule of law and human rights.”

Speaking to reporters during the presentation of the report, Kati Piri said the EU must actively engage with the situation in Turkey’s southeast by calling for a ceasefire and a resumption of the peace process. 

“We could face another refugee inflow, and this time it will be coming from Turkey,” she claimed, unless the EU takes decisive steps. 

Piri claimed in a telephone interview with Reuters that some 400,000 civilians have been displaced since the peace talks between Ankara and the PKK collapsed in July and the ceasefire ended effectively.

EU accession ‘should not be linked to refugee crisis’

The report also praised Turkey for hosting the largest number of refugees in the world, but warned against linking the country’s EU accession to the extent of its cooperation on the refugee crisis.

“The [EU] accession process ... should be connected to democratic reforms or rule of law or what’s happening with the Kurdish question,” rapporteur Kati Piri told Reuters. “The European Union gave a pretty bad signal by connecting it so directly to migration.”

Piri also told Reuters that the European Commission’s decision to postpone the announcement of its progress report until after the November 2015 elections, which was won by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) after it briefly lost the government in the June 7 elections, suggested the bloc stood “silent” in the face of Turkey’s deteriorating human rights record. 

Turkey and the EU agreed a refugee action plan last year under which the bloc would provide Turkey with 3 billion euros ($3.34 billion) in aid to meet the needs of Syrian refugees in exchange for visa liberalization and speeding up accession.      

Turkey ‘must improve rights record’

The report also touched upon Turkey’s deteriorating rights record, saying it “must show improvement in the field of human rights and freedom of expression.”

According to reports by Cihan News Agency, the report noted a “serious backsliding” on freedom of expression and the independence of media in Turkey. 

The report also called for the release of journalists behind bars, including daily Cumhuriyet’s editor-in-chief, Can Dündar, and its Ankara bureau chief, Erdem Gül, who were accused of espionage and supporting an armed terrorist organization after they published stories about Turkish intelligence trucks bound for Syria.